Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Progress is a steady stream of generating more wealth and sharing it more equally?

From Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods":

"Many landowners also discovered that they sat on great seams of coal just at a time when coal was suddenly needed for industry. This ... did translate into gratifying heaps of lucre. ... All of this was in an age in which there was no income tax, no capital gains tax, no tax on dividends or interest- almost nothing to disturb the steady flow of money being banked."

Combine that with this: Americans are happier when the wealth is more evenly distributed. Not to mention, the poorest (/least "developed") countries are often the ones with the most inequality.

So why are our taxes on the rich not really high? Maybe because we fall under the last bit of that Wired article: we don't like a more even society, if we competed to earn our wealth. So our national ethical system values "fairness" too much? I guess the 53% guy (who is responding to the 99% people; btw I love this bunch of the 1%) makes this pretty clear. But as Max Udargo makes clear in his excellent response, you can say "those lazy bums don't deserve my money", but what do you gain? You just get a worse society than if you distribute the wealth more evenly. Everyone loses, because we insist on valuing fairness over harm-reduction.

I guess that's my argument for taxing the rich more. Throw it in with all the rest.

Well, besides my other argument, which is: I want to live in a world where kids don't yell "Give me money!" when I ride past.

No comments: